Beauty

No Matter What

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Ah, the charming family dinner.

I am sure somewhere, someone is having one.

Riveting conversations. People who sit at the table. Food that is actually consumed.

But here?

Eh.

Take the other night, for example. When somewhere in between bouncing the baby on my knee and trying to avoid getting drool (hers not mine) on my plate, I threw out this little gem, “What do you think our New Year’s resolution should be?”

The confusion was palpable. There were blank stares galore. Finally, my eldest saved me with, “Hey mom, what’s a resolution?”

“Oh yes. That’s right, you are only 9, 6 and 4. It’s something you would like to accomplish this year.”

More. Blank. Stares.

Lucky for me, the 9-year-old rescued me again with, “Popcorn. I would like to eat more popcorn.” Naturally, this brightened the eyes of the boy who affirmed his sister by saying, “I’m good with the popcorn thing.” But then, for some reason, I followed up his agreement with, “Now, buddy, you need to come up with your own idea…”

So he did.

“Movies.”

“I’d like to watch more movies.”

It was shortly after this epiphany that I began having visions of my 80-year-old self riding an electric chair down the stairs to find all my children (now in their fifties) still living at home doing nothing but eating popcorn and watching movies…

Thankfully, Nathan’s voice interrupted my random musings with “Sophie, why is your shirt hanging from your neck? And where on earth are your pants?”

Now it was all I could do to keep from adding, “Great. Now I will have three kids in their fifties in my living room eating popcorn and watching movies in nothing but their underwear!” Instead, I was cut short by the pantless one who announced, “Excuse me, I have an acclomplishment. My acclomplishment this year is to take a bath.”

Really, kid?

I mean, I knew it had been awhile. A few days maybe. But had it really gotten so bad it was an “acclomplishment” in this house to take one bath for the ENTIRE YEAR?????

My private angst was finally cut short when Nathan addressed the pantless one with a practical, “Sophie, put on your shirt and eat your dinner. We can talk about acclomplishments later.”

Boom.

My man is all about the business.

My pantless wonder, however, is all about the drama.

A mere two seconds later, she threw her face into her hands and cried, “This is boring, boring, boring.” Not to be outdone, big sister piggybacks with, “You think this experience has been bad for you…how do you think I feel? This is the same meal we had that night I puked. Frankly, I am having a very hard time eating.” Which prompted the third and last contribution from the boy, “And by the ways, I think we forgot to pray.”

It was then I turned to Nathan and said, “WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?” to the tune of simultaneous praying which culminated with someone shouting, “LORD, WE THANK YOU FOR THE CHRISTMAS ORANGE!!!!”

Say what?!?!?!?

Now the point of this very random tale is that even though we didn’t find our resolution (shocking, I know), this little slice of life reminds me of the very thing that has sustained us in 2014…

Grace.

His absolute, unfailing grace.

In diagnosis…

In healing…

In doubt…

In hope…

In tears…

In laughter…

In death…

In life…

In fear…

In strength…

In the gutting…

In the gentle…

In every sweet and bitter second…

His. Grace. Came.

So that even in our weakness I can boast of this as we head into 2015:

His grace will be sufficient for us. His power, made perfect in our messiness. For when we are weak, He’ll bring the strong.

No matter the chaos. No matter the crazy. No matter the year.

No matter what.

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew, one-year-old Sophie, and her new little miracle Maddie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.

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First Friday: Sing a Hallelujah

All The Poor & Powerless from All Sons & Daughters on Vimeo.

“EEEEW, gross…ummmm, Sara?”

“Yeah?”

“I think I found what is making you sick.”

(Cue that look between two married people that says, “You know I’m kidding but still, you have to check this out---it’s really that disgusting.”)

I put down my frog tape and shuffle over to the head of our bed but before I can brace myself for the horror that awaits, my mouth can’t help but cry, “Oh, Mylanta, God could create like 1,000 Adams out of that much dust crud!”

“I know.”

Enter another voice that belongs to a seven-year-old someone helping Daddy paint.

“Mom, what do you mean 1,000 Adams?”

“You know, Adam of Adam and Eve.  God made him out of dust.”

“But wait, we’re not made out of dust, are we?”

“Well, uh, technically you were not made from dust…but your body will turn into dust when you die.”

Then I try to get fancy….

“It’s the great equalizer, kiddo.  Any time you get too big for your britches, remember that. We’re all just dust, baby.”

“Wait, what are britches?”

“Pants, baby.  They’re pants.”

Then, as if on some tripped-out beat, my love starts warbling, “Dust in the Wind…”

I start singing too.

Then shaking her head, my girl taps my arm and says, “Would someone please explain this whole pants situation?”

“What pants?”

It is at this moment, the same sweet little head shakes steadily down into open hands as the second verse of “Dust in the Wind” grows louder and louder and louder…

These are my people.

And this how we roll.

Our music.  Our mayhem. Our mode of operation.

Give us a theological question.

You get uncertainty. You get fancy.  And then you get confusion.

Uh? What? Er?

On our part, not the children’s…

That is, until later.

When I sit down and put pen to paper and hope that the Spirit can trump my brain. Which, by the way, He always can. Even when it looks completely hopeless and confused.

So let me begin again…

“We’re just dust, baby.”

You. Me. Daddy.

Dust.

Let’s take a second and think about this…

God takes dust…

He molds it. He uses it. He creates from it.

And then in it, He breathes a common thread through all humanity.  No human accolade or degradation can take this one thing from us. We are made by God, for Him, in His image, all with a specific purpose.

It is this purpose that flows through the song we sing in the bathtub, in the van and even in the occasional play place of late. It is a plan that promises All the Poor and Powerless will sing and shout and cry out together one day.  It is the power that says, “Don’t wait.”

Sing now. Shout now. Cry now.

Because while we’re here in our bathtubs and mini-vans and play places, it’s not just about dust.

It’s about praise. It’s about honor. It’s about hallelujahs.

It’s about shouting it out to the masses.

From our greatest mountaintops to our lowest valleys.

We are to sing our hallelujahs from dawn to dusk…

We are to worship where we live.  Not just in pews and hallowed halls.  Not just in moments when music is audibly heard.

For it is in the mundane, the daily and the seemingly inconsequential where praise groans into a beautiful melody.

The beat. The range. The harmony.

Yes, God craves the song of our everyday, baby.

So listen closely to the way your mama sings…

In every dirty sock I pick up…

In every knee I bandage…

In every homework page I sign…

I sing a hallelujah.

In every meal I plan…

In every pizza I pick-up…

In every dish I scrub…

I sing a hallelujah.

In every 3 a.m. wake-up call…

In every little dream I consider…

In every hurt I listen to…

Mama sings her hallelujah.

But listen still…

Your Daddy is singing too.

In every dollar he earns…

In every mile he travels…

In every second he is apart from us…

He sings a hallelujah.

In every Saturday donut he offers…

In every story he reads…

In every game he plays…

He sings a hallelujah.

In every prayer he utters…

In every hug he gives…

In every kiss he offers…

Daddy sings his hallelujah.

But listen still, sweet one…

You have a hallelujah too.

In every classroom…

In every mini-van…

In every play place and playground…

You have a precious hallelujah.

So sing it.  Cry it. Scream it.

From dawn to dusk. From mountain to valley. From beginning to end.

SHOUT. IT.

Because we’re only dust, baby.

And the world needs us shouting until we can’t…

So cue the music.  Set the volume.  And sing the words.

Together now, baby…

“HE. IS. GOD.”

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful.

 

Why I'm Grateful to Miley Cyrus

Miley

As many of you probably know by now, Miley Cyrus put on quite a show at the MTV Music Awards on Sunday night. Thanks to her performance, I learned a new word and have had some interesting conversations with my girls. I could have lived my whole life without knowing the word "twerking," but I am thankful for the conversations with my girls.

Just to be clear, we did not watch the MTV Music Awards performance. (To reveal the depth of my fuddy-duddyness, I'm not sure I can even find MTV on our TV.) But because her performance made the news on the radio, my girls had all sorts of questions about what went on Sunday night.

So, Monday, I spent some time explaining to my girls what I knew about the performance. I'm not going to get into all the things that were wrong with her performance Sunday night. I think that's been hashed over enough. If you want to read a fabulous blog on the subject, check out I am Rihanna's "A Letter to Miley Cyrus."

What I am going to do in this space is talk about how Miley's performance opened up an opportunity to talk honestly with my girls about sex and about how sex can be used for so many things other than what God intended. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about the pitfalls of fame, money, and a life lived without God.

We have had "the talk" with both of my girls. They're both aware of both the mechanics of sex and God's plan for it. Since we've had that original conversation with each of them, we've had a bunch of follow-up ones. In our house, much to my daughters' embarrassment, sex is just another topic of conversation. We don't shy away from it, and we don't pretend that one conversation with our kids is enough.

As evidenced by the MTV Music Awards Sunday night, sex is everywhere in our society. It's used to sell everything from cars to flowers. By the time our kids are in middle school, they generally know more about sex than I knew until I got married. If we refuse to talk about it at home beyond that single, big conversation most of us have with our kids, then the vast majority of information our kids are getting on the subject comes from their friends and the media. I guarantee that those sources of information aren't giving your kids the message that God created sex as an amazing thing for marriage only.

What we need to do is to talk to our kids constantly about sex. We need to be the ones delivering the information about sex. We need to be the ones reinforcing the original message we've given them. We can't expect the world to do it for us.

What we can do with all those messages our kids are getting about sex from the rest of the world is to use them to our advantage. We can make it a policy to address the things that our kids see and hear. Instead of trying to ignore those messages, we can use them as tools to continue the years-long conversation we need to be having with our kids about sex. We can take even the wrong messages about sex this world is sending out and use them for good in our own homes.

So, while my heart bleeds for Miley Cyrus, for the little girl that we watched grow up on TV, I'm thankful that her performance gave us just one more opportunity to talk with our girls about the right and wrong uses for sex. I'm grateful that it gave us one more opportunity to have an open conversation about living our lives to follow God. I'm happy that we got the chance to talk about right and wrong choices in life.

And I want to encourage you (when your kids are old enough) to not make conversation about sex a one-time deal. Make it an open-ended conversation, one that you come back to over and over and over again. The world is bombarding your kids with messages about sex every day. One conversation is not enough to overcome that bombardment. Look for opportunities to use what the world is saying as a springboard to help your kids understand what God has to say. This subject is simply way too important for us to remain silent.

 

Tell Your Kids They're Beautiful

We went to the orthodontist last week for a consult. All through the appointment, my daughter told anyone who would listen that she didn't want braces. I knew she wasn't a fan of the idea, but somehow I had missed the clues that she was really upset about the idea.

We got in the car to go home, and she burst into tears. Uh oh. There was clearly more going on here than just getting braces. They weren't even on her teeth yet and she was distraught.

She tells me she doesn't want braces because she won't be able to eat some of her favorite foods. But I think, deep down, she doesn't like change and she doesn't like the way they look.

No amount of explaining the reasons for the braces or reminding her that she won't have to wear them in high school is breaking through her disgruntled wall.

And, so I'm reminded that my kids need to know they're beautiful. And we don't tell them enough.

I'm not talking about giving your children big heads and  getting stuck on their physical beauty. But every child, every person, needs to know they are beautiful, simply because they are God's creation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Our kids need to know that God thinks they are beautiful.

They need to know that their beauty is made up of more than the color of their hair, the height of their body and the clothes that they wear.

They need to know that true beauty comes from the inside, from the joy we find in God, from serving other people, from being kind with our words.

They need to know that braces, bad haircuts, and fashion faux pas don't make them any less beautiful in our eyes or in God's eyes.

In a world obsessed with physical perfection, a world of stick-thin models, actors with bulked up muscles and  Photoshopped magazine covers, we need to help our kids understand God's yardstick for beauty.

When we forget to tell our kids they're beautiful, when we don't reinforce God's standards of beauty over the world's, we let our kids buy into the myth that beauty is something that's dependent on the opinion of others. We let them get caught up in the world's perceptions instead of God's.

So, when your kids say something kind, when they do something well, when they show grace to others, when they remember to be polite, tell them that they're beautiful. Remind them that it's the stuff that's on the inside that matters and that God thinks they're beautiful. Because they are.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.